Aconite is a short-acting remedy. Its symptoms do not last long. It is a violent poison in large doses, either destroying life or passing away in its effects quite soon, so that if the patient recovers, the recovery is not delayed. There are no chronic diseases following it.
Like a great storm, it comes and sweeps over and passes away. By a little meditation we will discover what kind of sickness all this is like, and what kind of a patient is most likely to have that short, sudden sickness.
If we think a moment from experience and homoeopathic observation, we will remember that vigorous, plethoric individuals, when they take cold, come down violently, whereas feeble people, sickly people, come down and recover slowly from acute diseases, and do not become so violently and so suddenly sick.
Before Hahnemann’s time Aconite had a reputation as a sudorific, and in cases of rheumatism, sciatica, and tumours, but it was not till Hahnemann proved it that its properties were really, understood. Aconite is more closely associated with the rise and progress of homœopathy than any other member of the materia medica. If Cinchona was the “Newton’s apple” of the homœopathic discovery, Aconite was the remedy by means of which Hahnemann was able to meet most of the conditions which in his day were treated by blood-letting. It was Aconite more than any other remedy which paved the way for the disappearance of blood-letting from general medical practice. One of the deadliest and most rapidly acting of poisons, through Hahnemann’s discoveries has been turned into the best friend of the nursery. Aconite in potencies above the 3rd is a perfectly safe medicine for any age. Sensitive patients complain of its depressing action when repeated, and I have known instances in which the characteristic prostration of mind and body has occurred after Aconite had been given in the potencies. But such cases are exceptions, and are not attended with danger when they do occur. The great majority of patients to whom Aconite is given in the potencies experience nothing of the kind.
The rapidity of action of Aconite determines its appropriateness for conditions in which the symptoms set in with great intensity, such as Asiatic cholera, certain fevers, and acute inflammations. To this list may be added attacks of sudden blindness. But it must not be supposed that the sphere of Aconite is limited to acute cases. When the symptoms correspond it will cure cases of great chronicity─for example, cases of indurated glands.
There are not many drugs which have causation so strongly marked among their characteristics. Chill, fright, injury, or surgical operation─the effects of these will be met in large majority of cases by Acon., the timely administration of which will ward off serious results.
Aconite has in its nature none of the results usually following inflammation. The storm is over so quickly that it seems mostly to conform to the earlier condition. In these vigorous patients sudden congestions are likely to be thrown off by good reaction.
The patient seems to be threatened with a sudden and violent death, but recovery is quick. So, as was observed by Dunham, it is a great storm and soon over. Dunham’s discussion of this remedy in his Materia Medica is very poetical and well worth reading.